New Brighton contaminants, maintenance, and how to control your water softener anxieties
August 02, 2016
New Brighton and its water system have a complicated relationship; just please don’t get caught in the crossfire by ignoring your softener.
Before I go into the details of water softener maintenance, here’s the skinny on New Brighton water:
Back in 1981, the city learned its groundwater was contaminated; an aquifer shared with the Twin Cities Ammunition Plant released levels of suspect carcinogens to the area. In response, officials tried working around the contamination, which seemed effective until recent discovery of a new contaminant in the water called 1,4-dioxane.
Although the amounts of this byproduct are allegedly minute in the city water, state officials are playing it safe with a temporary alternative.
Dioxane-free Minneapolis water supply will serve as a 2-year stand-in while New Brighton’s Water Treatment Plant 1 undergoes construction.
Emotional roller-coaster, right? Now, let’s make it even more complicated by bringing in the role of the water softener!
Softeners are great because they can hang out in your basement for 15+ years and be just fine as long as you fill your salt, maybe clean its parts on occasion, and check for salt mushing or bridging when things don’t seem to be working right.
But, there is another crucial part of maintenance:
PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE YOUR SOFTENER SETTINGS!
Degrees of water hardness vary from place to place, so if your water source changes you need to re-adjust your settings.
If you don’t do this, your softener will start using an improper amount of salt to soften your water–and you might be wasting a lot of money on extra salt.
Take this New Brighton situation as an example.
The water the city used before is harder than the Minneapolis water it’s getting now. For naturally soft water (like Minneapolis river water) it takes less salt to recharge your tank’s resin (the little beads that take out minerals in your water). So, although your softener should continue to do its job without a re-adjustment, it will use more salt than necessary to follow its inaccurate setting instructions.